It could be argued that they never existed, and that the image of the dedicated public servant were merely fiction. There are certainly examples in history for both sides of the issue.
Today however, lets look at who takes these jobs. Cops are quite often people who were bullied in High School. It affected them deeply, and now they have a badge, and a gun, and the authority, and they aren't going to be ignored ever again. The are not the thin blue line protecting society, and I'm not sure they ever have been during my life.
Bureaucrats in every department and organization. They don't have the authority to say yes, but they do have the power to say no, and they enjoy exercising their power. Corruption runs rampant, and mistakes are either ignored, or most often, result in additional training. How often do we read stories of just blinding incompetence, and malfeasance? Oh not to worry they tell us, there is an internal investigation. Those investigations never result in charges. Want to have fun? Call the IRS helpline, and ask a question once a month. As the same question. If you donate a car to charity, do you get to deduct the bluebook value of the car at the time of the donation, or the actual sale value at auction? You will get a different answer every month, and they are the experts.
Then there are the Politicians. They vote on bills they have not read, and have no understanding of. Bills with thousands of pages, which nobody knows what is in them. The reason the IRS doesn't know what they're doing in regards to the question above, is that nobody has been clear in the thousands of pages of laws that we pass.
Douglas Adams said in the book Restaurant at the end of the Universe, that anyone who wanted the position of President of the Universe, and the power that went with it, was the person who should be the last one to have the power. In other words, you should be ineligible to hold the office if you want it. We spend billions of dollars fighting to see who can get the top office. We spend tens or even hundreds of millions to get the Senate seats. We spend all that money to get a job where you don't make much? Then how do all those Politicians leave Washington so rich?
The last Politician that I can think of to leave Washington poor was Harry Truman. How many of our representatives are similarly destitute?
I don't know what the answer is, and I don't know what the future holds. But each generation seems to have less to hold it's head up about. The sixties brought us such great advancements in science, the Apollo missions were an example of ingenuity and determination over adversity.
We used to take on the hard things, we used to dedicate ourselves as a people to that which was impossible. Curing diseases that were decimating our population. Polio, Mumps, Small Pox were all eradicated. We used to do such wonderful things.
Now, our intelligence is in making more drones, and better drones, to find and slaughter those who disagree with us. Our science has nearly turned it's back on space, and is now working on more machines to kill each other. It's a shame that our kids are dumb, but we have smart bombs, isn't that a clever thing?
So long as the Average Joe can check out Busty Bimbo's from Budapest on his computer, he doesn't care what is going on in town, what asinine things are being done by his Government. He doesn't care that his kids are dumber than a box of rocks. He doesn't care that we aren't advancing any science. He is ignorant of and apathetic about the fate of anything. All he wants to do is watch TV, and he's got a couple hundred channels, and then late at night, when the family is asleep, he'll sneak down and check out some readily available porn.
This is the world we live in, and the future isn't bright, it's so dark that pitch black would be an improvement.